“I Needed to Be Set Free!”
My parents started attending Lehigh Valley Baptist Church shortly before I was born, so for most of my life, I had the knowledge that the only way to Heaven was to be saved through faith in Jesus Christ and repenting of my sin. When I was eight years old, I asked God to save me and let me into Heaven, but in my heart, I did not repent of my sin and ask for God’s forgiveness. (Note: “saved”, “salvation”, and “born again” are Biblical terms referring to the forgiveness of sins by God and the rescue of a person from the power and penalty of that sin. This is God’s requirement for everlasting life.)
For a little time after, I felt like I was saved and everything was alright with God, but that feeling wore off eventually, and as I continued to fall into sin, I began to have some doubts about my profession of faith. I remembered a preacher once saying that if you are truly saved, your life should be changed and different from what it was before true salvation. I then realized the truth that there had been no change in my life since I prayed for salvation to God, and therefore I really was not right with God.
“However, once I realized this fact I did not to care about a relationship with God and instead decided not to worry about my spiritual condition.”
As I grew older and into my teen years, I began to have a more fervent desire to do what I wanted without caring what God thought, and at times, I was involved in sins that even my parents did not know about. Whenever the issue of salvation came up in a church service or in a youth activity, I became even more stubborn toward God and would not admit that my sins were wrong in His eyes. But while I had this stubbornness and pride in my heart, my life was also constantly consumed with the thoughts of death and of Hell. I knew that the Bible said that the wages of sin is death, and this knowledge had me fearing the judgment of God over poured on my soul in Hell. While I still feared this and still would not yield to God and instead did whatever I could to drive the thoughts of Hell out of my mind.
As time went on, my life began to feel miserable and unsatisfied. I indulged in my lusts, but I was never satisfied, and I felt as if my life had no meaning to it. On top of this, I knew that Jesus Christ had promised to one day return to this earth and to rescue His children from this earth and to pour out His judgment on the whole earth and upon the unsaved with the destruction of the world. I feared that He would come, and I would not be ready and would have to face the judgment of God for all of eternity. But although I was miserable and afraid of God’s coming judgment, I would not turn to anyone for spiritual help. I still wanted to live my life the way I wanted but also did not want to go to Hell. However, there is no middle ground and I could not serve God and myself; I had to make a choice: myself or God?
It was on March 4, 2018, when I would finally make that choice. We had a guest speaker at our church, and he preached on the topic of the Second Coming of Christ. At this time, I was under heavy conviction of my sin, and the one thing that caught my attention that morning was when the preacher read the verse in 2 Peter 3:9 that said, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Although I had heard this verse many times, that morning the verse stunned me. It showed me for sure that God’s promise that His Son would return to earth was indeed true, but it also showed me something wonderful about God.
“The verse said that the Lord is longsuffering toward mankind and that He did not want anyone to perish in Hell, but He desired that all should repent of their sins and be right with God.”
Questions began to form in my mind: why would God be longsuffering toward me after all that I have sinned against Him? Could it be true that after all I have done against Him, He would not want me to die in my sins? I knew that my sin was wrong in God’s eyes, but God still wanted me to come to Him in repentance and faith. I was overcome with the realization that God still loved me despite all the things that I had done against Him. Although I did not come to salvation that morning, the thoughts of that verse lingered with me all day.
After our church service that night, my mom and I were talking about normal every day things, but in the middle of the conversion, my mom said to me, “You know, you really should start thinking about your relationship with the Lord.” Suddenly, heavy conviction came upon me when I saw how concerned my mother was for my soul and as I remembered again that I had no relationship with the Lord. As she began sharing with me the story of her life and how she did not grow up going to church, she told me that now that she knew Jesus Christ as her personal Savior, she now had peace in her soul. I immediately felt guilty that as I grew up going to church and heard the stories of the Bible, I had never come to Christ; instead I had wasted my life on my own desires. As my mother told me about the peace she now had in her life, I suddenly realized that was what I needed and wanted. I was tired of my soul being in constant unrest and in fear of death.
“I needed to be set free from the sin that gave me no fulfillment and be granted the peace that only Christ could give.”
I went to my room deeply upset over my sin, my selfishness, and the lack of God’s peace in my soul. My mother later came into my room to wish me good-night, but I could not answer her; I was too convicted of my sin to really care about anything else. She asked if she could help me with anything, and although I was first reluctant to share what bothered me, I eventually told her, in tears, that I wanted God’s peace for myself. We continued talking until my dad came into the room, and I told him that I was struggling with my salvation. I told both of them that I wanted to be saved, but I also didn’t want to give up my life to God. My mom then asked me whose way of life was better for me, God’s or my own?
I must have not really thought much about it before, but when I considered it, I realized that my own way of sinful living would end in my judgment from God in Hell, while God’s way was offering me eternal life that was free for me to receive. This was being so freely offered to me because of what God’s Son did for me and all humankind by coming to this earth, fully God and fully man, and paying for our sins by being unjustly crucified on a wooden cross, although He was innocent of all sin. We as humankind have sinned against God because we have broken God’s law, The Ten Commandments. The law demands that we keep the law perfectly, but because of our sin nature that we inherited from the first man that God created, Adam, we are incapable of keeping the law completely, no matter how hard we may try.
The punishment for sin is death and separation from God in Hell for all eternity, but God in His loving mercy provided for us a sacrifice in our place. His Son Jesus Christ took all of God’s wrath for us so that we could be forgiven and have a relationship with God. The only thing required of us is that we ask for God’s forgiveness and repent, or turn away from, our sin.
Soon after my parents left the room so that I could be by myself, I did exactly what the Scriptures commanded. I fell on my face before God and pleaded with Him to forgive me of my sins, knowing that He had every right to turn me away. I repented of my sins and chose to receive Christ as my personal Savior, recognizing Him as the only One who could save me from eternity in Hell and give me fulfillment in my life. I knew that my sins put Jesus on the cross and caused His suffering, but I also knew that God has been waiting for me with open arms to receive me as His child. When I could not say any more to God, I suddenly felt a wave of calm and peace sweep over my soul, and I knew it could only have come from Him. He filled the emptiness in my life and filled it with a purpose for life and the peace that when I die or when Christ returns, I would go to Heaven to be with Him forever.